Glyphosate: What’s Your Level of Exposure? 

ANH-USA staff underwent testing for glyphosate exposure, and the results were shocking! Action Alert!
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is a toxic chemical that is becoming virtually ubiquitous in the modern world. Exposure to this chemical is associated with a number of health concerns, including cancer. A number of alarming reports also suggest that the chemical accumulates in the body, which can be of concern to those whose bodies cannot detoxify properly. ANH staff took a glyphosate urine test to see what kinds of exposures are possible given various lifestyle choices.
Human exposure to glyphosate has increased by 500% since the introduction of genetically modified crops. Glyphosate is traditionally sprayed on genetically modified soy, corn, canola, sorghum, alfalfa, sugar beets, and cotton but it is also sprayed—sometimes right before harvest—on a substantial portion of wheat and oats grown in the US. Glyphosate is also sprayed on a wide variety of non-GMO crops such as almonds, rice, cherries, avocados, and apples.
Humans can be exposed to glyphosate in any number of ways, including eating foods on which it was sprayed or living near agricultural areas or golf courses where the sprayed herbicide can drift and contaminate people’s homes. There are also concerns that glyphosate is contaminating some organic crops. Our own testing found that glyphosate residues were widely distributed in a variety of breakfast foods like bagels, cereals, and eggs. It’s contaminating our air and water: in the 2007 growing season, glyphosate (or its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid) was found in 75 percent of air and rain samples in the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. Other testing found glyphosate in 13 of 21 drinking water samples.
Due to the myriad health problems linked to glyphosate exposure, including cancer, and the ubiquity of this chemical, ANH staff decided to get tested using Health Research Institute Laboratories’ urine test for glyphosate. Note that reference levels for glyphosate exposure in the European Union (EU) are significantly lower than in the US, presumably because many countries in the EU have banned genetically modified crops.
We received a wide range of results:
Staff member #1 had very low levels, which made sense because, as they put it, they “avoid wheat and most grains like the plague,” drink only filtered water, and eat all organic food. Our guess is that the only way they could have been exposed is through cross-contamination of organic crops, and perhaps they are excreting slower than normal because of known single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that compromise their detoxification pathways.
Staff member #2 had glyphosate levels above the European average but just below HRI Labs’ average. They report that they eat mostly organic food, though cheat often. They are not gluten free, but have been trying to limit consumption of wheat. They also live in a highly agricultural area, meaning that glyphosate sprayed on nearby farms could be drifting to residential areas, as we know to be the case elsewhere.
Staff member #3 had high levels of glyphosate. They report eating gluten/wheat and not so many organic foods—although they are starting now!
Staff member #4 had low levels of glyphosate. They are not strictly gluten or wheat free, but don’t eat many grains. They eat mostly organic, but also eat out at restaurants fairly often and tend not to pay close attention to whether an establishment offers organic food.
Staff member #5 had high levels of glyphosate. They are mostly grain free, mostly gluten and wheat free, and dairy free. They buy organic groceries, but also order a lot of takeout from restaurants. They don’t eat any processed foods.
Staff member #6 had low levels of glyphosate. They eat a good amount of organic foods, and almost no processed foods. They eat gluten and wheat, but almost always homemade, whole foods (for instance, they bake their own bread from organic flour).
Staff member #7 had high levels of glyphosate. They are pescatarian, but do not eat organic foods very often. They are not wheat or gluten free. They suspect their high level is associated with the breakfast foods they eat—bagels, oats, cereals, etc.
It’s hard to draw strong conclusions from such a small sample size. There could be many explanations for the presence or absence of glyphosate in an individual. Someone with a great detox system might be able to regularly eat wheat without accumulating high levels of glyphosate; someone with a somewhat compromised detox system might avoid all wheat products and eat all organic, but still have detectable glyphosate levels (like Staffer #1). This testing shows that it is a good idea to get a handle on our individual SNPs and put in place detoxification support if those pathways are compromised due to our genetics or lifestyle. Detoxification is a complicated process (this article has more information). For example, there are two phases of liver detoxification, and if phase 1 is accelerated while phase 2 is still impaired, the individual can become very sick. For these reasons, it is best done under the supervision of an integrative doctor (for help finding a practitioner in your area, use our Practitioner Finder).
As we often say at ANH, it all boils down to the individual—there is no one-size-fits all prescription.
The government’s failure to properly regulate the spread of herbicides, like Roundup, further underscores the need for consumers to take matters into their own hands and get tested (we used this one). But we shouldn’t stop holding federal officials accountable. To protect our health, and the health of future generations, we must ban glyphosate.
Action Alert! Write to the EPA and tell them to ban glyphosate, and copy Congress, which oversees the EPA. Please send your message immediately.


  1. Let us not forget that tobacco is the Sixth Most Pesticide Intensive Crop and that glyphosate is used on GMO tobacco. Inhalation of such toxins is the worst exposure path. The cigarette industry unaccountably enjoys little or no criticism or condemnation about this.

    1. Make bread often – you’ll find you become addicted to the process, particularly the kneading. Adapt it to your schedule with several long, slow rises (better develops the flavor) at room temp or even in the fridge, as most of bread-making time involves the ‘rise.’ When taking French classes, I baked two long, airy, crisp baguettes; my French-born professor ate one entire baguette with the organic preserves I made! LOL Said she hadn’t had bread like that since her last trip to France. Ooh-la-la, the ultimate compliment.

  2. 90 percent of the corn, soy, canola, cotton, sorghum, alfalfa, which are all GMO and doused with glyphosate, are feed grains or processed to feed to be fed to imprisoned cows, pigs, chickens, and farmed fish. So it is basically meat, dairy, and eggs where we humans get by far the most exposer to glyphosate, and yet you don’t even mention that in this entire article! The worst nightmare for Monsanto and big pharma is people going vegan, organic vegan, and caring about the health and freedom of animals, wildlife, ecosystems, themselves, and other people. We’re all connected.

    1. Well written Will. Unfortunately, “AG GAG” laws have made it illegal to speak against the producers of those things, even if what they’re saying is true, so most people are afraid to mention it, just look at what happened to Oprah Winfrey & the “Mad Cowboy”.
      We’ve all grown up with the big lie that we need massive amounts of animal products for muscle repair & growth, bone health etc., yet the largest, most powerful land animals on Earth derive & maintain their herculean growth & strength on nothing but plants.
      If we think about it, the time of most rapid growth of humans (in infancy) has throughout history been provided solely by their mothers milk, which is only 5-8% protein.
      All around the World, the standard American (S.A.D.) diet is being adopted in other countries & is producing the most obese & sick populations in the history of our planet.
      In spite of trillions of dollars spent Worldwide for research & treatment of cancer, heart disease, diabetes & Alzheimers, these diseases are at an all time high in those same countries.
      If everyone around the World became vegan, especially ORGANIC vegan, not only would their health & strength improve but the entire World could be fed easily, with far less pollution & destruction of ecosystems and the ozone layer, and the only supplement needed for a vegan is B-12.
      Think that will never happen? Look around you, the food revolution has BEGUN! ; ))

  3. Bayer, the company which bought Monsanto, is the company which actually supplied the gas to the Nazi concentration camps….can’t make this stuff up!

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